Destination and Path

The open road

Over Labor Day weekend, Erika and I made the cross-state trek to Pullman, WA/Moscow, ID for a visit. During the 7-hour drive home, much of which looked like the image to the right, a desire began to grow within me that longed for the journey’s end. There was nothing much to see or do, it seemed, except be with one’s self and one’s companion.

An abandoned barn sink into the earth

But, that should be enough, shouldn’t it? Why does the mind so eagerly cast forward in anticipation? When we desire to race forward in time, aren’t we simultaneously wishing for a shorter life? Is it a subconscious death wish? What would Freud say?

Sudden copse in the middle of nowhere

In life as in travel, many of us are focused so intently on our destination, we forget to enjoy the path we are on, the place we are in, and the people we are with. When we have the goal always in mind, it crowds out the moment’s offering of enjoyment. Responsibilities barrage the mind – animals need tending, children need feeding, plants needed watering, bills need to be paid, we’re tired, we’re bored. We perseverate on jobs we’re stuck in that deplete us simply to pay the bills, plodding on waiting for retirement. Escape is all we can think of as we rush from task to task, forever looking ahead toward the day it will end. Maybe that’s just me, but I doubt it. Everyone feels like Willy Loman from time to time.

These thoughts rushed through my mind as quickly as the landscape at 75 MPH. I turned to Erika, who was driving, and asked if she would agree to stop periodically so that I may take some photographs and enjoy the sights. She was tired and hesitant, but agreed with patient acquiescence.

Windmills in the distance

Initially, it was tough for both of us to rationalize the ceasing of momentum. After all, it was mostly open fields. Where they really that important? Shouldn’t we just go home and take care of the dog? But, as we awkwardly stopped a few times, we eventually began to relax and enjoy the small wonders of different landscapes.

In the end, the trip took longer, but not by much, and most of that was due to Labor Day traffic. A few minutes carved out here and there made the long journey all the most tolerable.

Stop today, even for a moment, and check what’s going on. You might be surprised to see what’s there for the seeing.

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